Alan Schaaf on how Imgur avoids the ugliness of social media

  • Little known fact: Imgur is a top 20 website in the United States. A lot of people don’t realize it. 

  • How did you get started in entrepreneurship? I started a geek squad competitor in high school. I would make house calls and fix computers.

  • I studied computer science in college: In college, I kept launching personal projects to fix some personal frustrations I had. One of those projects was Imgur. [Imgur was bootstrapped and profitable for 5 years]

  • The opportunity for Imgur: Everyone was building products for high-quality photos [Flickr, Photobucket, etc]. I thought images required different functionality. There was nothing to make sharing a gif, or logo, or meme quick.

  • The features that were important for Imgur: Speed and performance. You can quickly drag and drop an image and immediately get a link back. I built it based on what I wanted the internet to have.

  • The internet needed a hub of images: We ended up having this huge network of images being spread out all over the internet [Twitter, Reddit, etc] and we asked why can’t people come to Imgur directly? So we built a community around image sharing.

  • The difference between Instagram and Imgur: Instagram is about making yourself look good. This makes other people compare their lives and feel bad. It is not a good feeling. Imgur is not about looking good. It is about sharing something of value. Our mission is to lift the world’s spirits for a few moments every day. The entire purpose of the company is to solve the problem that the social giants are creating. These very addictive products that make you feel worse at the end of the day. We are trying to make a product that makes you feel better.

  • How Imgur moderates the content that appears on Imgur: We have a huge team of human moderators located all around the world. They are part of a system of content moderation. It takes an average of 3 minutes for us to take content [that doesn’t fit community guidelines] down.

  • Not being a platform for free speech is a product strategy for Imgur: We are a place of positivity on the internet. Not free speech. We want to be a beacon of hope to attract the people that are sick of social media’s toxicity.

  • Full podcast here.